Frugal Advice from Patrick J. Beaird

The Internet Decision

Be it TV, movies, radio, product packaging or even government, we are continually encouraged or directed to visit numerous web sites each day. The Internet has definitely become a part of our culture! I myself have an extensive background in the use of the web and related technologies to deliver services and information. So, does this mean that everyone should make the effort and investment to get on the Internet?

Here is some food for thought so you can make an informed decision for yourself.

  • Identify and consider your reasons for accessing the web. Is it to communicate with friends and relatives, gain access to specific services and information, buy or sell things, look for a job or just for entertainment?
  • Think about your family. What potential benefits and dangers does it present for them? Set rules and then discuss them openly. Also, don't just assume all is well, be ready to be a little nosy if you have to in order to police surfing habits.
  • Consider ALL the potential costs. Take into account the cost of the computer, software, Monthly Internet access, other hardware, maintenance and possibly training.
  • Where will your computer live? Strongly consider putting your computer in a high traffic area of your dwelling. This will discourage family members from going places they should not and provide the ability to monitor the kids more easily.
  • Consider used equipment to start. Maybe your co-worker has an older computer they will sell cheap or even give you. If you go this route make an effort to get them to come over and assist you with the setup.
  • Consider the various levels of service. Maybe a dialup connection will meet your needs at a fraction of the cost of broadband.
  • Consult with friends, relatives and co-workers. Let them know that you are considering options and what would be frugal.
  • Consider your own strengths and weaknesses. Be honest! The Internet provides easy access to pornography and gambling among other things.
  • Understand the risks. There are potential security risks associated with the web such as viruses, fraudulent e-mails and spam just to name a few.
  • Identify additional value. Brainstorm how the Internet might benefit you in other ways. Examples include online banking, checking your kid's grades and accessing the latest news.
  • Avoid hype. It's not about having a powerful computer to brag about; it's about meeting your needs cost effectively.
  • Consider a class. If you are new to computers it can be very informative and also help dispel fears. Don't be afraid to ask even the dumbest sounding questions when in class. It's better to ask than sit at home later in frustration.

The choice to invest in access to the Internet is up to you; just be completely honest with yourself, take your time and don't feel pressured to jump in just because everyone else seems to be doing it.

I answer select questions and share experiences and tips through my articles. Feel free to write me at: or Patrick Beaird, P.O. Box 9203, Springfield, IL, 62791

Copyright 2007 Patrick Beaird